It’s hard to believe that 23 years ago Airbus announced to the world that it would build its own very large airliner. After extensive research and predicting the future of travel it took the plunge and decided to build its own super passenger airliner. Forward to 2017 and the aviation giant has announced the A380plus. One question remains, is this a last stitch attempt for Airbus to save the slow selling A380? Airbus surely hopes not.
So what has Airbus done to improve on this modern marvel of technology? The biggest news for their development study is cost saving. The biggest cost to an airline company is fuel, therefore any saving on fuel should peek the interest of potential buyers. As can be seen in my previous blog Airbus already makes some incredible wings. Which is why the French manufacturer has paid attention to the wings of its flagships. It features new and rather large winglets. The new winglets measure approximately 4,7 metres in height (an uplet of 3.5m, and a downlet of 1,2m). They have been desinged to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag. They have made a few other refinements to maintain the superjumbo’s sophistication. These subtle changes have added to allow for a 4% saving in fuel burning. Not bad considering this saving will give the A380plus an operating range of 16 300kms.
Even more appealing to airline companies will be the total saving of 13% per seat over the current A380. This cost per seat reduction can be attributed to the enhanced cabin features which Airbus debuted at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in April this year. This optimsed cabin layout allows for up 80 additional bums in seats – bringing the total capacity to a possible 575 passengers. Airbus promises that this will not compromise on passenger comfort. Further changes to the new cabin are redesigned stairs, crew compartment as well as new possible seat configurations; either 9 abreast in premium economy or 11 abreast in standard economy. I know I wouldn’t like to be the unfortunate person stuck in the middle seat of the middle row with 574 other passengers.
The A380plus features longer maintenance check intervals, a reduced six-year check downtime, and systems improvements, which will reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability. The King of the skies is still the world’s largest, most spacious airliner and offers passengers the smoothest, quietest and most comfortable ride at 39000 feet. Airbus continues to make bold claims that the A380’s unique capabilities still allow it to generate revenue. It’s difficult for the public to understand the complex economics of airline operations but with over 170 million passengers since the inception this goliath has become somewhat of a global sensation. This is clearly evident with the flying public now being able to specifically select the A380 when booking flights via iflyA380.com.
“The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance at the same time,” said John Leahy, Airbus’s COO of customers. “It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of A380 customers. The A380 is well proven as the solution to increasing congestion at large airports, and in offering a unique, passenger-preferred experience.” Will the A380 share the iconic status as the Queen of the Skies – the Boeing 747? I believe that it achieved its iconic status the day it’s wheels left the tarmac. I look forward to day I am lucky enough to fly on an A380, who knows maybe my first A380 trip will be on the plus.